This morning I read an article on CNN by Brian Mclaren calling Evangelicals to choose between allowing Islamophobia to spread further or seeking a "more charitable approach to our Muslim neighbors." In the article he said, "Many sincere and good-hearted evangelicals have never yet had a real Muslim friend, and now they probably never will because their minds have been so prejudiced by Islamophobic broadcasts on so-called Christian television and radio."
Let me start with a few facts:
I've watched a number of news clips and read many articles in the last week that talk about Islam. In fact, I can't seem to get away from them. None of them have been from Christian news sources. Now maybe the news sources can't be trusted, but they are claiming that there has been a lot of violence and even an attack on a US Consulate that killed 4 US citizens. I must confess, Mr. Mclaren, I haven't checked their sources. It could all be a huge hoax. Maybe Christians and other non-Muslims are perfectly safe... to live and work in all the Muslim-majority countries.
Maybe American diplomatic posts in India, Indonesia and elsewhere aren't closed today. Maybe France hasn't closed embassies and other institutions in 20 countries today. Maybe nobody has died today in protests in Peshawar today. Maybe police haven't run out of rubber bullets today while trying to protect the diplomatic enclave in Islamabad (source). Maybe the State Department shouldn't have issued travel warnings for Pakistan (96.4% Muslim), Lebanon (59.7% Muslim), Tunisia (99.8% Muslim), Sudan (97% Muslim), Algeria (98.2% Muslim), and Libya (96.6% Muslim) in the last 9 days (source).
Maybe I have no reason to be afraid. No reason at all. Or maybe I should even be scared of Christians.
Earlier this week the New York Times published an article claiming that Jesus might have been married to some woman. The reaction has been extreme. Fundamentalists were seen in Topeka today burning a movie theater. Christians took to the streets all over the country after Wednesday evening church programs, and police have been unable to contain the violence. The U.S. Government has paid for an advertising campaign distancing itself from the article in an attempt to protect its buildings and employees. */End sarcasm/*
Let's be real here. Each of these things did actually happen with Muslims. Christians aren't responsible for the violence of the last week. Muslims are. And Christian media hasn't convinced me to be scared of traveling in Muslim countries. The actions of Muslims as reported by CNN and the state department have. That's not Islamophobia, because a phobia is an irrational fear. My fear is completely rational.
To quote Mclaren, "The broad highway of us-them thinking and the offense-outrage-revenge reaction cycle leads to self-destruction." But it isn't Christians who are caught in that cycle.
Am I an Islamophobic violence-monger by pointing it out? Am I spouting hate-speech by explaining that Mohammed was a violent man who started a violent religion? No and no.
The truth is that Brian Mclaren is promoting Anthrophobia--an irrational fear of man. He's a man-fearer, not a God-fearer, and he has let his fear of Muslim men in particular prevent him from loving them by calling them to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.
So let's not be like Brian Mclaren. Let's be God-fearers, not man-fearers.